Candace Couse

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Germany: Berlin's Reichstagsgebäude


The Reichstag building is a historical edifice in Berlin, Germany, constructed to house the Reichstag, parliament of the German Empire. It was opened in 1894 and housed the Reichstag until 1933, when it was severely damaged in a fire. After World War II, the building fell into disuse; the parliament (Volkskammer) of the German Democratic Republic met in the Palast der Republik in East Berlin, while the parliament (Bundestag) of the Federal Republic of Germany met in the Bundeshaus in Bonn.



The ruined building was made safe against the elements and partially refurbished in the 1960s, but no attempt at full restoration was made until after German reunification on 3 October 1990, when it underwent a reconstruction led by internationally renowned architect Norman Foster. After its completion in 1999, it once again became the meeting place of the German parliament: the modern Bundestag.



The term Reichstag, when used to connote a parliament, dates back to the Holy Roman Empire. The building was built for the Reichstag of the German Empire, which was succeeded by the Reichstag of the Weimar Republic. The latter devolved into the Reichstag of Nazi Germany, which left the building (and ceased to act as a parliament) after the 1933 fire and never returned; the term Reichstag has not been used by German parliaments since World War II. In today's usage, the German word Reichstag (Imperial Diet Building) refers mainly to the building, while Bundestag (Federal Diet) refers to the institution.

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